Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne 101

I never did understand the lyrics of the Auld Lang  Syne,  maybe you don;t either!
It is of Scottish origin, so here's a little Auld Lang Syne 101:

 The song Auld Lang Syne is traditionally sung by most of us on the stroke of midnight each New Years Eve however in Scotland, where Auld Lang Syne originates it is also sung on Burns Night, January 25th, to celebrate the life of the author and famous poet Robert Burns. 

 The words 'Auld Lang Syne' literally translates from 
old Scottish dialect meaning 
 'Old Long Ago' and is about love and friendship in times past.

The lyrics in the song Auld Lang Syne referring to 'We'll take a Cup of Kindness yet' relate to a drink shared by men and women to symbolise friendship. Happy New Year!!!!

Burns’ original Scots verseEnglish translation

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?
For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp ! and surely I’ll be mine ! And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pintcup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a wearyfoot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in thestream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trustyfriend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Sweet Scottish lyric Version

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The awwwwww factor

Is this just the cutest pic of this husky pup?

Taken in Romania.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I hate dealing with insurance salesmen. You always wonder, in what way will they be screwing us over, either now or later? We've had the same Homeowner company/policy for a few decades. The houses have changed twice, but we just wanted good & fair coverage if something happens to this long term investment, we call home.
You can imagine my shock, by way of a notice from our mortgage company, asking for additional  $300+ "escrow" money. What? We are paying down our loan, and we we have a fixed mortgage, so there should not be such blips. So we investigated.
Turns out our homeowners insurance, Allstate, raised our rate by-- 73%.
Clearly, if they sent us a straightforward invoice showing the rate change, we would have responded accordingly-- pitched a fit & dumped them post haste.
But what they did was send us some fine print gobbeldy gook, and called us to "help find ways to lower our rate" (read a sales pitch).... never up front saying they'd jacked it up so much.

We've had no claims, the payments are made by the mortgage company, so no delays w payments.
When I called to ask/complain about it, the freakin' clerk had the gall to try to sell me more product.

Seriously? You just about doubled the price & you want to talk about buying more products from your company???
I cut to the chase-- Please don't waste your time, or mine- do NOT try selling me anything right now.
What I need is to speak with a manager.
No manager available today.

My friend Lisa said it best:

A 73% rate increase is 100% unacceptable.

I called this morning, and my agent's office is not open till 9 AM, so I spoke with "Jimmy", he was located in India. He confirmed our rate did jump by 73%. However he did not have the number to a regional manager. I want to talk to MY agent's boss. Think in the New Delhi accent "I am not able to provide you with a number", so I asked for a supervisor, & spoke "Nancy" in India, I ask to be transferred to a regional manager in Oregon. The call is forwarded to Jill in North Carolina. I asked to speak to a regional manager in Oregon. The call is forwarded to Cedric in Illinois. He gives me the same story... they don't have a number of a regional Manager in Oregon. I asked him to transfer me to a supervisor, but instead, he dumped me into a generic voicemail. Damn! Jimmy, Nancy, Jill & Cedric could not help me, in this global telephone trot.  So I called corporate headquarters & spoke with Jack, who gave me the Bothell Washington Regional Office. If this run around is any sampling, I suspect I will be chatting with so many more Allstate employees or subsidiary call centers, in a global way. My local agency manager is not in today, but the clerk Kara, explained in a lecture format, how insurance works. So many claims. Ugh! I wish I had a violin! But my point is we've been customers for over 20 years & have not made 1 claim. Not one. Kara gave me the number to the marketing manager, whose voice mail says he's out for the week of the 27th. I did at least learn that we can cancel the policy & get a full prorated refund. I feel like I've come full circle. Maybe later, I'll be in the mood to talk with the Washington Regional guy, but my time would probably be better spent calling other insurance companies for a quote.

Meanwhile the health ins company (different company) sent notice they have discontinued a med I take from their formulary, or I could pay a $50 per month co pay. Great! $600 a year for one medication. As an aside, there were no pay raises whatsoever, in 2010 to help cover this expense.

Remember all that fussing they did about health insurance reform & adding kids over age 18 to 26 to health insurance?
We now have the honor of paying $143 a month for the privilege. There went $1700 bucks.

Don't get me wrong-- I'm glad to have health/dental/vision insurance, but it is a whole lot of money, plus co pays & for me an additional 20% of medical bills.

What's your insurance story?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The times they are a-changin'

Circa 1966, Peter Paul & Mary do justice to the Bob Dylan song....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Ugly Christmas lights festival

An annual tradition @ Ramblings.... let the sarcastic reviews commence....

Mourning the loss of the deflated inflatables.

Thought this one was quite funny, maybe too realistic?
 Too many 9-11 calls required them to take it down. 

The giant bow just won't do!

That's Different--  but where do you put the star??

They still could squeeze in a few more things.....

This pick up has picked up 3000 lights. 

Home is where the port-a-potty is???

The lamp from "A Christmas Story"-- Caution FRAGILE!

Merry Whopping Utility Bill!

Slightly obsessed?

There must be therapy for this!

Friday, December 24, 2010

All things Wassail

“Here We Come A-Wassailing” 
While the song is better known as “Here We Go A-Caroling” to some, wassail is a spiked, mulled hot punch that is usually made with cider or wine, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and apples.
The Middle Age toast “Waes hail” or “to your health” would be employed when handing someone a drink. The proper response was “drinc hail” or “drink to your health.” Thus, wassail can also simply mean to merrymake or raise one’s glass.

Manheim Steamroller Acoustic Version
Instructions on how to actually make Wassail (In both Metric & US Measurements!!!)
Involves Ale !

Crockpot Wassail

8 cups apple juice or cider
2 cups cranberry juice
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 oranges
Whole cloves
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Ginger
1 teaspoon Nugmet
3 cinnamon sticks (or 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon)
1/2 cup - 1 cup brandy (optional)
Turn the crockpot on high and pour in the apple cider (or juice) and cranberry juice. Mix in the honey and sugar until dissolved. Stud the oranges with the cloves (25 to 30 should do the trick) and place in the pot. Add the diced apple, Allspice, Ginger and Nutmeg. Finally, snap the cinnamon sticks in half and add those as well. Cover the pot and cook on high for 1 hour. Change the setting to low and allow to simmer for 3 more hours. About half an hour prior to serving, add the Brandy if you choose to use it.

Garnish with slices of orange or lemon...
Nice Hammer Dulcimer Version
Well then! I think we've pretty much covered all things Wassail!

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green.
Here we come a-wand'ring so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
and to all your wassail, too,
may God bless you, and send you a Happy New Year,
 God send you a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not the lame duck session

Well done Congress! As if a symbolic stocking stuffer of goodies...

• A bipartisan tax deal

• The repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy

• Passage of the New START  (anti nuclear proliferation treaty)

• A bill to provide medical care to rescue workers sickened from their work at ground zero.

I know it's not perfect- the wealthiest got the tax break too, anti discrimination is a step in the right direction, but it steps towards endless wars. Don;t know enough about the START treaty to know if I should be happy, but if the alternative is to END life as we know it, in  nuclear wars, then START is good.  The 9-11 first responders are heroes & they should get help with health care monies. It;s been 9 years already-- good thing Fire Fighters don;t take that long to respond! Those monies were cut back a few billion.... but at least help is on the way.  It was refreshing to see some bi partisan voting going on. One could argue these were no brainer bills that deserved YAY votes. But let's hope this is a start of a new trend so we can abandon the gridlock, and get something done for this country, in a positive way. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Trees please... Outside the box

We've seen the traditional X mas tree.  Over the years we have evolved to a fake tree with a choice of lights... blue or clear, depending on our mood. We decided hanging the ornaments was too much work, so we skip it (besides this year they are all behind the college kid's stuff stored in the garage).
But here are some thinking outside the box, X mas tree designs:

For the shoe-a-holic

Free wheelin' bicycle parts tree

A CD Christmas tree

Dog Bone tree!

Firewood tree... With candles...Indoors?  I don't think so
Try to explain that on the insurance claim form!

Talk about cool ideas... Blocks of Ice X mas tree

Recycled Cardboard tree. Have a very Eco Friendy X mas

Sheer Genius! The ladder X mas tree. 

Wine bottle tree. Hic!

Recycled magazine tree. 

Bookshelf conversion. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jib Jab~ So long 2010!

Gotta love the Jib Jab Year in review...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

i-Nightmare-- Apple Rotten to the Core?

Oh damn it to hell. I hate to relay this story, because I have been a long time Apple and all "i-things" fan, but alas the story needs to be told.
The reason: The husband was thinking about getting me an i-thing gift item, but then heard this story on NPR about the suicide rate of the Chinese Apple i-pod, i-pad, i-phone mfg facility.
I came across this article, in the UK web site "DailyMail"- here are some excerpts:

Revealed: Inside the Chinese suicide sweatshop where workers toil in 34-hour shifts to make your iPod

Yet, amid all the fanfare and celebrations this week, there was one sour, niggling note: reports of a spate of suicides at a secretive Chinese complex where Jobs's iPhone, iPod and iPad - Apple's new state-of-the-art slimline computer - are built and assembled.
With 11 workers taking their lives in sinister circumstances, Jobs acted swiftly to quell a potential public relations disaster.
Stressing that he found the deaths 'troubling' and that he was 'all over it', the billionaire brushed aside suggestions that the factory was a sweatshop.

For, as Apple's leader was taking a bow on the world stage, the Mail was under cover inside this Chinese complex. And we encountered a strange, disturbing world where new recruits are drilled along military lines, ordered to stand for the company song and kept in barracks like battery hens - all for little more than £20 a week.(31.48 U.S. Dollars)
In what's been dubbed the 'i-Nightmare factory', the scandal focuses on two sprawling complexes near Shenzhen, two decades ago a small fishing port and now a city of 17 million people.
This is the epicentre of operations for Foxconn, China's biggest exporter, which makes products under licence for Apple using a 420,000-strong workforce in Shenzhen. They have 800,000 workers country-wide.
And as Jobs was speaking in San Francisco, new measures were being secretly introduced at Foxconn to prevent the suicide scandal from worsening and damaging Apple sales globally.
Astonishingly, this involves forcing all Foxconn employees to sign a new legally binding document promising that they won't kill themselves.
The document, a copy of which has been obtained by the Mail, states that all employees (or their dependants) must promise not to sue the company as the result of 'any unexpected death or injury, including suicide or self torture'.
The owner of this massive, highly controlled iPad and iPhone factory has also decided to install something he's dubbed 'ai xin wang' - which translates literally as 'nets of a loving heart'
In reality, these 'loving hearts' are 10ft high wire fences on the roofs and 15ft wide nets at the base of all buildings. The human traps are to prevent people jumping to their deaths and smashing themselves on the pavements below.
Alongside such physical impediments to suicide, hundreds of monks have been flown in to the plant to exorcise evil spirits. Shaven-headed and wearing long robes, groups of monks have been seen chanting and praying amid baffled, exhausted workers.
More than 2,000 social workers are also being recruited and emergency helplines set up. Anyone appearing mentally ill or stressed is being identified by a special 'spotters' team set up to keep tabs on the workforce.
Workers who fail to respond to the chanting monks or the entreaties of social workers are secretly shipped to Shenzhen Mental Health Centre, a private facility where there are several wards crammed with Foxconn employees.
With the complex at peak production, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the global demand for Apple phones and computers, a typical day begins with the Chinese national anthem being played over loudspeakers, with the words: 'Arise, arise, arise, millions of hearts with one mind.'
As part of this Orwellian control, the public address system constantly relays propaganda, such as how many products have been made; how a new basketball court has been built for the workers; and why workers should 'value efficiency every minute, every second'.
With other company slogans painted on workshop walls - including exhortations to 'achieve goals unless the sun no longer rises' and to 'gather all of the elite and Foxconn will get stronger and stronger' - the employees work up to 15-hour shifts.

Down narrow, prison-like corridors, they sleep in cramped rooms in triple-decked bunk beds to save space, with simple bamboo mats for mattresses.
Despite summer temperatures hitting 35 degrees, with 90 per cent humidity, there is no air-conditioning. Workers say some dormitories house more than 40 people and are infested with ants and cockroaches, with the noise and stench making it difficult to sleep.

After details of the Chinese suicides leaked out, and Jobs promised he was 'all over it', his Chinese partner announced that his workers would receive a generous-sounding 30 per cent pay rise, raising the basic wage from £90 to £120 a month.
Yet human r ights groups denounced this as a public relations sham, saying that the legal minimum wage was being raised by the Chinese authorities in any case.
Lu Bing Dong, 22, helps produce 21,000 iPhones daily in his workshop alone. 'The pay rise is actually stopping us making more money because now they are strictly controlling overtime,' he says.
'Foxconn are very smart - they say it's a pay rise, but we actually earn less. It's meaningless. They will increase the daily quotas [of products made] to make up for lost time.'
As we left the sprawling Foxconn complex, workers were putting cages on one dormitory block with balconies - yet another measure to keep workers from killing themselves.
'It looks even more like a prison now,' said a weary Lu, 27, returning from a 15-hour shift.
One can't help wondering how Steve Jobs, the billionaire Buddhist, manages to square Foxconn's activities with his belief in karma - that what you do in this life will be repaid in the next...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanks, Ebenezer....

We paid off a Visa card w a final $234 payment. Zero balance-- Woo Hoo!!!

Expecting a Zero balance statement-- instead we get a
"You owe $1.50 Minimum Interest" notice. 

Furthermore, in the fine print, there is a
"Late Payment Warning"
If they don't receive that $1.50 by the Jan 5 deadline, "you may have to pay a late fee of up to $35.00 AND your APR will be subject to increase to a maximum Penalty APR of 29.99%". 

Wow! Do you feel the love?
Hell of a thank you note for paying off your account , Eh??

Apparently we have the Chase Scrooge Card!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wal-Mart- Class Action lawsuit & Homeland security?

You would think you were being punk'd to view this announcement. Must be some well done political satire, but no- this is for real, or unreal-- you decide!

Yes folks, if Homeland security is deeply in jeopardy-- Who you gonna call???
A Wal-Mart Manager???

Just to confirm how secure Wal-Mart is....
It has come to light that Wal-Mart tends to pay female employees less for the same job, and they tend to not promote Women as much as men.

From the Independent:

Walmart received a boost this week when the US Supreme Court said it would hear the supermarket giant's attempt to block a massive sex discrimination class action lawsuit against it.
The claim, which is the largest sex-bias lawsuit in US corporate history, dates back to 2001. It was first filed by seven women, some of whom still work at Walmart, but it now covers up to 1.5 million former and current female employees.
The plaintiffs allege the practices of promoting men over women and paying them less for the same role across its 3,400 stores over the past decade were part of a common culture at Walmart. The retailer, which owns Asda in the UK, had appealed to the country's highest court in the summer over the lawsuit after a Californian appeals court gave it the green light in April.
The Supreme Court judges will not rule on whether Walmart is guilty of sex bias, but will decide if the grocer must defend itself against a single lawsuit that covers such a huge number of employees. If the case proceeds, it could cost Walmart $1bn or more in damages.
The Walmart Stores Inc v Dukes case is named after Betty Dukes, the lead plaintiff, who is a store greeter for Walmart.
Prosecuting lawyers allege that the case is "large because Walmart is the nation's largest employer and manages its operations and employment practices in a highly uniform and centralised manner". But Walmart argues that this is unfair, saying that claims should focus more on locations or on an individual basis. Walmart said: "The current confusion in class action law is harmful for everyone – employers, employees, businesses of all types and sizes, and the civil justice system.

Keeping the USA safe from terrorists, while appealing their sex-bias discrimination lawsuit to the Supreme Court. 
Just how low do they go?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are you buying this?

Let's review....

Bush tanks the economy, after 8 long years at the presidential helm.

Just before his sorry ass leaves office, he announces we must do a $700 BILLION dollar bailout to prevent a major financial meltdown in 2007-2008.

Hank Paulson from Goldman Sachs would be in charge, but giving him total immunity would be nice.
Many Wall Street high rollers are saved, and exorbitant bonus money continues to flow.
Those who were victims of the subprime mortgage meltdown were left to fend for themselves.

Basically, they gave Bankers & Wall Street the key to the treasury, and corporate welfare.
In real life, if you tank your own business w sloppy & shoddy practices, you either sink or swim. Businesses regroup, tighten their belts, restructure. Or just hit up the Federal Reserve.

Fast forward to December 2010

Recent articles tout the "success" of the TARP program, saying it looks like the Federal Treasury will "only have lost $30 billion" not paid back.

The 2 million unemployed people who lost their benefits this month could have used that money for basic survival.
I don't know about you, but knowing so many people are struggling does not make the corporate welfare give away any easier to take.
But in this upside down new world order... losing $30 billion is GOOD news!

Woo Hoo!  Excuse me while I go get some party hats...